The Dutch biotech Citryll has raised €15M to develop antibodies that could fight autoimmune and inflammatory diseases more effectively than current treatments by inhibiting the innate immune system.
The Series A funds will be used to launch the clinical development of Citryll’s lead antibody, which is designed to treat the autoimmune condition lupus. The money will also fund the preclinical development of two other antibodies aimed to treat rheumatoid arthritis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Current treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory conditions suppress all inflammation, which can impact the patient’s ability to fight infections. Citryll’s antibodies have a more specific approach, targeting only neutrophils — a type of white blood cells important for the innate immune system, the first line of defense against invading pathogens.
When fighting pathogens, neutrophils can sacrifice themselves to capture the invaders in a cage made of DNA and proteins, called neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs). In autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, NETs can contribute to the condition by releasing autoantigens and inflammatory molecules. Citryll’s antibodies inhibit the production of these NETs, leaving the rest of the immune system intact and potentially providing a more targeted and safer approach than current treatments.
NETs may also be a good target for enhancing the effect of antibiotics in bacterial infections. For example, a research group from Sweden is investigating targeting these neutrophil structures to treat meningitis.
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